A couple of years ago, on a Mexican holiday, I found a sports channel where a bullfight was about to begin. We don’t get a lot of that in Australia, so I watched.
What I saw was a magnificent animal slowly tortured to death. By the end, this poor creature was literally on its knees, covered in its own blood and howling in agony and terror. The matador strutted around the now helpless animal, drawing out its final moments, looking for applause from the maybe half full auditorium.
What struck me most was the cowardice of the exercise. If for even a fleeting moment it looked like the bull might get the upper hand, it was suddenly surrounded by people shouting and waving and prodding it from horses. And as Matthew Clayfield’s article (June) points out, matadors only want to fight animals who have never fought before, who have no idea what’s going on.
What I saw that day has haunted me. So forgive me if I couldn’t buy into the poetry and beauty of bullfighting that Clayfield’s writing tried to drum up.